Friday, November 27, 2009

Customer Service Success - Bavarian Soundwerks

I recently had a great Customer Service experience with Bavarian Soundwerks (BSW).  BSW is a retailer of BMW related audio equipment.

I've been trying to connect my iPhone to my 02 BMW factory stereo.  I have researched it briefly in the past and found the cost to be too much for my aging (high mileage) car.  I gave it one more try and found BSW, navigated the site and found the piece I needed.  The one thing I was unclear on was if I needed this extra piece ($100) to make the connector work.  I called BSW, they were closed as it was 7:30 EST, then I utilized their websites "Contact Us" form.  I submitted my question and expected to get a response the next business day.  I was surprised to see a response from Halston at BSW about 2.5 hours later that was very clear and to the point.  I then had a couple of follow up clarifying questions which were quickly responded to.

I purchased the item, received prompt auto-generated emails for receipt, shipping info (including UPS tracking number/link).  A couple of days later, I received my purchased item (BSW Auxillary Input Kit for BMWs).  I had previously watched the YouTube video (Bavsound)for how to install the piece, so I quickly installed the piece and my iPhone was quickly playing my favorite playlists.

Bavarian Soundwerks created a great customer experience for me and made this purchase simple.  I recommend Bavarian Soundwerks to anyone looking for audio supplies for BMWs.  Great job BSW.

P.S. I was recently amazed when I received a phone call on my iPhone which was hooked up to the Aux Input, I answered the call and could hear the caller through my factory stereo and the iPhone microphone picked up my voice perfectly.  I didn't think this system would work for a "hands free" phone.  This was the icing on the cake.

Customer Service Fail - Chain Coffee Shop (not Starbucks)

I figured I had to share this poor customer service example I recently experienced.

I was on my drive home from work, I was running later than normal and had to run an errand a little out of my normal pattern.  Therefore, I stopped at a coffee shop near the freeway entrance.  I walked in around 7pm, there were people sitting at every table and no one in line.  I walk straight up to the cash register to order, except there was no employee there to greet me.  I stand and wait and peruse what type of coffee to purchase.  After a short wait, an early twenties (my estimate) female employee asks me what I'd like.  I reply that I would like a large coffee (which this coffee shop keeps in self serve pump thermoses).  She replies, I just got on shift and don't think we have much choice in the thermoses.  She then proceeds to lift and measure by weight which have anything in them.

I'm really not too picky with coffee so settle for whatever she had a lot of.  Needless to say, I was not amazed at the freshness of the coffee nor the expertise of the staff.  I purchase my coffee and move to the "coffee fixins" bar.  I fix my coffee up and notice that the employee has walked out the door of the coffee shop.

Before I even finished getting my coffee and going, the employee was back outside sitting and talking to a friend.

Really, she gave me the excuse earlier that she "just got on shift" and didn't know which coffee's were fresh.  Yet, she had plenty of time to settle in at a table with her friend.

I was amazed (not surprised, part-time employees can be very hard to manage at such a retailer) that a smaller chain coffee shop would have such a failed customers service experience.  It is very easy for me to find a Starbucks that can easily replace this coffee shop on my list.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Inbox ZERO + Twitter ZERO + Google Reader ZERO = Overwhelmed

Yesterday during my run (3 miles) I listened to the @context podcast (Episode 14), this episode featured Tara Rodden Robinson interviewing Augusto Pinaud (the normal host). Augusto discussed his GTD system which seems to be very complete and he made some very insightful statements during the podcast.

The one thing that stuck out so drastically for me was Augusto mentioned that he is taking a break from technology on the weekends and that when he checks into Twitter on Monday mornings, he doesn't go back and read everything he has missed over the weekend. 

This made an impact on me.  I immediately identified something that I believe has been weighing down my productivity recently.  I've been trying to keep my Inbox at Zero, my Twitter at ZERO, and my Google Reader at ZERO.  All while keeping up with my day job and reading a book (The world is flat) at the same time.  This has pushed me into an unproductive state.  And I don't even use Facebook which would be one more item to review.

Merlin Mann's Inbox Zero philosophy is one piece of work that made a large influence on my productivity (another huge piece to my system was, great stuff Jim).  It helped formulate my system for managing my email and staying ahead of my email so I don't get behind.  Over the time I have been using this system, I think it has engrained the Inbox Zero philosophy into my dna.  Now, I seem to have a daily goal of getting Twitter and Google Reader to ZERO.

Getting all these channels to ZERO has really overwhelmed me.  After stepping back yesterday and thinking about it, there really isn't that much great stuff that I'm getting from Twitter or Google Reader, and that my life won't be any different if I let some of those items go.  Mentally I have to teach myself to go back to my old ways and let go of the Inbox Zero philosophy.

Thank you Augusto for opening my eyes, and hopefully my productivity will return to normal heights.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Apple iTunes 9 UI (User Interface) Design, Podcast Sync Settings Still Suck

Let me start this out by saying that I am a loyal iPhone user and have used iTunes for years.

I get tired of hearing everybody talk about how good of a design company Apple is.  Yes, Apple has delivered great products to market and many of them have very intuitive designs.  I continue to be amazed at how poor the iTunes design is.  With the popularity and revenue the iTunes site brings in, I would think the UI (user interface) would be flawlessly executed.

One area I am constantly frustrated with is the iPhone sync settings for podcasts.  I am a huge podcast listener and have tons of subscriptions, with hundreds of podcasts.  Way too many that I can fit on my iPhone at a given time, therefore I have to manage my sync settings to TRY to load the podcasts that I want.  This area of iTunes has been broken for many releases.

With the most recent release, the Apple designers have improved this functionality, but it still sucks. It doesn't seem like it would be that difficult to give the user a little more flexibility with settings.  Just allow the check boxes to be active for every podcast and allow the user to check off which ones they want to sync.  Sounds simple to me.

Maybe I'm an outlier, but stop making podcast sync settings more convoluted and give the user the freedom to make their own selections rather than forcing them to use the predefined dropdowns.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Is your business tracking the correct measure of success?

Recently I've been seeing and hearing a lot about measurements of success. I think measuring our work as marketers, or any other profession, is key to understanding our business and our performance and ties very closely to goals/objectives.
  • Without goals; how does a business know what they are aiming for.
  • Without measurement; how does a business know how they are performing to their goals.

This morning I read Forrester's post about needing to measure effectiveness of social media efforts. Wow! That seems like a tough thing to measure even though I'm sure it can be done. It looks like Forester thinks this is as easy as a 3 step process.  When businesses enter the social media realm, aren't they doing that for a reason? They must have some sort of goal. Question is, is it clearly measurable? And, do the metrics clearly tie social media activities to the result?

My team met a couple of weeks back to discuss our 2010 metrics of success. We reviewed our 2009 goals, our performance to those goals, and the true objective of our efforts. Our team struggles with clearly defining one single, measurable goal due to competing priorities (customer experience/satisfaction, product revenue, ad response, etc.).

I think many teams struggle with setting clearly defined goals and metrics of success. Yesterday, during my workout, I listened to Sheryl Sandberg's talk at Stanford's Entreprenurial Thought Leaders series (FYI, they produce a lot of great podcasts, check it out), she stated that the Facebook team has been struggling recently with defining their single metric of success. When a company like Facebook struggles with this task, it seems to me that many, if not most, are also going to struggle. I think a lot of the struggle boils down to competing priorities.

Does your business (or business unit) have one clear measure of success? How do you balance competing priorities?

I guess my point to this post is; defining a clear measure of success is very tough. Making sure your team is clear on the goals/objectives is paramount. I don't think having a set measurement for success is 100% necessary for all businesses to work towards for a year or multiple years. I think you should constantly be measuring your work, make sure you measure pieces of each competing priority, and be open to quickly changing your measurements.

What are your thoughts on measurable goals?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Thankful to those who help put food on my table

This is the first time I'm mentioning much about my personal life on this blog.  For those that aren't aware, I live on 113 acres in the Salinas Valley (to Wikipedia).  The Salinas Valley is one of the largest producers of salad greens in the U.S. as well as many other crops.

Yesterday morning, I awoke to sounds of farm workers near my pillow.  Not really, but they parked their van next to the fence to my house, which leaves them about 10 feet from my head.  It really is amazing to hear them hoot'in and holler'in at 7am (which they probably actually started working at 5am) and it sounds like they're having fun.

At about 8am, my wife woke up while I was reading my Google Reader in the bark-a-lounger.  She looked out the window and saw the harvester machine right in front of the house (see bad photo to the right taken with the weak iPhone camera).  We watched the farm workers methodically cut, toss, and pack the broccoli over and over.  Their system is completely manual, well orchestrated and precise.  We admired the work ethic these farm workers have and thanked them for doing the hard work not too many other Americans would do.  These farm workers work very hard for very little pay.  They have such a drive to make their life better that they will work 12 hour days, bending and doing back braking work just to get by.  

This past weekend I've been finishing up "Outliers", by Malcolm Gladwell, and thinking about his words around how work ethic and time of study is so important thriving in life.  Watching these farm workers has made me think about their work ethic and it helps me put some extra time in to my work and be thankful that I'm sitting at a computer working rather than in the fields for 12 hours a day.

Living on this ranch for the last 2.5 years has opened my eyes to the agricultural world.  It is an amazing industry that is very different from the worlds many of us live in.  So, I just wanted to share this quick story and hope we can all be thankful for what we have and what others are doing all around us to give us a better life.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Free" to "Fee" - Can businesses move services from "free" to "fee"?

I have seen lots of recent mentions about "free" and how online advertising is dying.  Bob Garfield's recent comments about how people do not click on ads (see my recent post here), as well as Six Pixels' recent post (here) both talk about how we all know how the declining clicks is not a shock to anyone.  I've long wondered how businesses continue to invest in online advertising when I don't know anyone that ever clicks on these ads. Of course I understand the Brand messaging and do see that there is value in online advertising, but I don't see how many people will click on ads.

I've also seen a lot of articles and mentions in podcasts around how 'free' services business models are hurting the market.  Businesses are killing themselves without even knowing it. Businesses launch a free service and think that advertising will be the answer to their revenue plan.  As I stated above, it appears that online advertising is in a declining state (note: this is just a hypothesis).  If ad revenue, for 'free' services business models, the basic economics of this model will not work. In order for a 'free' service to recoup for diminishing ad revenues, one option is to introduce a pricing structure for this 'not-so free' service.

Now, introducing a 'fee' structure after customers have already received the product for free is not going to be easy.

Are there any 'free' to 'fee' success stories out there?  If you have any, please share them with us.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Is Internet Advertising dying? Great podcast, Dishy Mix with Bob Garfield

Yesterday during my run (only 2 miles), I listened to a recent Dishy Mix podcast with Bob Garfield.  Bob (links to his blog) made two points which really stuck with me; internet advertising is flawed and free is going to hurt the internet.

Bob made some great points about how internet advertising is a dying and that there are fundamental flaws that will keep internet advertising from prospering.  Bob stated "nobody will look at an ad if they have the option not to," which is spot on.  When people use the internet, they don't want interruptive ads and pop-ups, which is why the internet advertising industry has moved to banner ads.  Bob stated "nobody has ever clicked on a banner ad, ever, you know except for click fraud and mouse error."  With this in mind, won't the advertisers catch on when they measure their ROI from their banner ads and figure out the banners are not leading customers to purchase their product .  My thought is that advertisers aren't measuring and analyzing their internet advertising as well as they should.

Bob also talked about how giving services away for free on the internet goes against principle economics and is killing many businesses.  There were some early moves by companies to give away their services online for free while charging for offline services.  This has created a lot of free supply, and now customers are demanding products for free.  He talked about how Gen Y'ers have only known the 'free' world, and do not expect to pay for services.

Bob and Susan discussion created a lot of thoughts for me, I would definitely recommend this podcast to everyone and I look forward to reading Bob's new book The Chaos Scenario.

I'll follow this post up with some additional thoughts this podcast brought together for me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Matthew Cornell's "Don't-Care-o-Meter" and my "Good Enough" mentality

Just read a blog by Matthew Cornell about his client's "Don't-Care-o-Meter".  I follow Matthew's blog due to my ongoing search for improved productivity (which will never be complete).  Matthew's "Don't-Care-o-Meter" post is great.  It basically talks about how many of us are always striving for perfection, when 80% of perfect would be "good enough".

As a manager, I think the "good enough" skill is one of the toughest traits to learn.  Prior to me moving into a management role, I was always striving for perfection.  When I then had direct reports, I looked to them to work towards perfection.  The problem is that everyone has a different impression of "perfection" and it seems like our own measure of "perfection" is always higher than others.  As a manager, holding your directs to your standards is the kiss of death.  You will kill yourself trying to get your directs to get the project done exactly to your desired level.

For me, there came a time when I became overwhelmed.  With my study of GTD and thanks to the GTD Virtual Study Group, I knew I had to change something to stay out of the "overwhelm" zone.  I realized I needed to learn to accept the "good enough" mentality in order to increase my, and my team's, productivity.  With this, our project quality has suffered a little bit in our eyes.  The good thing is that the quality is in the eye of the beholder, and most people think we're still providing just as high of a quality work.  I spend a lot less time reviewing my direct reports work and now give items a quick review, a little feedback (see Manager-tools for a great feedback approach, MT rocks) and move on.  I probably have reduced this review time by 80%, giving me more time to focus on my projects.

This focus on "good enough" has really helped, what I'm learning is that there is a fine line where "good enough" can get you into trouble (check back here soon for more on this).

Do you have a story about a "Good Enough" mentality?  Has "Good Enough" bit you before?  Let us know.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What brands are you loyal to? Here are mine:

Loyalty is a hot topic in the building of a brand.  I was driving home yesterday thinking about loyalty.  On the surface, I thought I was loyal to my favorite brands.  After thinking about it, I'm not sure if I am very loyal to many brands.  Wikipedia defines brand loyalty as the consumer's commitment to repurchase or continue using the brand.  After thinking about loyalty deeper, I think my loyalty to many of my favorite products is very shallow and is mainly due to lack of competition or due to convenience.  Here is my short list of brands I am loyal to:

  • BMW - I love my 325i.  It is a workhorse, is fast, gets 30 mpg and is reliable.
  • Malibu Boats - Versatile boats that are great for high performance water skiing and start every time.
  • Oakley Sunglasses - Worn them for years.  Great style, comfortability and customization.
  • Apple iPhone - Can't live without the iPhone.  I'm not totally loyal to the Apple brand.  I think they make some great products even though I'm not the biggest fan of iTunes.  I think it's kind of clunky, except that it is the only option.
  • Seth Godin - Seth is the man.  I look forward to reading to his blog daily and seek videos of his speaking engagements.

Have you thought about the Brands you are loyal to?  Are you loyal to your favorite brands? Or complacent for the time being?  I'd like to hear your loyalties.

Is Columbus day a holiday? Yes it is to BART

Was yesterday a holiday for you?  Yesterday was Columbus Day.

My perception was that it isn't really considered a holiday. Traffic was just as bad. The train (BART) was almost as busy as normal (estimated 80% of normal). A school I drove past was in session.  The Financial District in SF was just as busy.

The one thing I did notice was, BART (SF Bay Area Rapid Transit), seemed to observe it as a holiday as I did not have to pay my normal $1 (I think) parking fee.  This struck me as odd.  There were almost as many riders, yet this financially struggling transit provider was giving all of us regulars a free parking day.  Hmm, makes you wonder what drives the decision making.  Unions? Management? Federal Authorities?  So I did some research using Bing (not my normal search engine, but thought I'd give it a try).

I asked Bing, "why was BART parking free on Columbus Day" (great results at the top). It appears that BART parking is free on 9 holidays.  As of April 2008, BART had 46,000 parking spaces.  Guessing that 1/2 of those are paid (estimate $1, even though some are up to $4), that's approximately $23,000 down the drain.  Sure this is a guesstimate, but that could be easily pay for a good chunk of 1 FTE's salary.

I often think about how BART could improve their business model in order to increase revenue, and it seems like there are lots of things they could do, but aren't really trying too many.  One quick way would be to not give away free parking on 9 holidays.  What about charging for parking on weekends (that's 104 days of $0 parking revenue).  Do you have any great ideas for helping BART?

P.S. Written on BART train 414, Fremont to SF line.  I think BART provides a great service.  I've tried many different methods to complete my commute, and BART is very reliable and on time in my opinion. Now it's time for BART to refine it's business model.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My frustration with Nike+, RunKeeper is superior

I just read Terry White's post Nike+iPhone - (Nike+) Shoes = Flexibility, and it reminded me how negative an experience I have had with Nike on this product.  Like Terry, I am a huge Nike fan and have been loyal to them my entire life.  Here is my frustration.

When I made a decision to get back into running, I looked for a solution to track my runs.  I found Nike+, yet it wasn't compatible to the existing iPhone (Original, version 1).  I contacted Nike by email and Apple to inquire about when the Nike+ would be compatible with the iPhone.  The response I received was that Apple did not recommend running with the iPhone due to the hard drive, and it recommended using the Nano.  Not the response I wanted, but I trusted the advice and figured that this option would never be developed.

So, far Christmas, I received a Nano, Nike+, and Nike+ Shoes.  Add it up, it's over $300 worth of merchandise.  Shortly after, the iPhone 3G came out with GPS and my wife purchased it for herself.  With this phone, I then located Runkeeper, which is a GPS based iPhone application which tracks your run.  It does everything from tracking your pace, location and elevation.  This is a great app, and at a great price.

So here I am, with my 1st Generation iPhone and Nano + Nike+ system.  Then Apple announces newer iPhones will work with Nike+.  While the Nike+ has worked well for me and is a good (not the best) product, I haven't been happy with the communication and product release process for Nike and Apple.

When it's time for me to get a new phone, it will definitely be the newest generation of iPhone, but I will be switching away from using Nike+ and will use Runkeeper due to far superior fitness tracking.  By the way, my next shoes will be Nikes.

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for any product mentions in this post (does that cover my necessary disclosure?  Who knows?)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Customer Service Week - Local Retailer vs. Large National Retailer

Customer service is built into my dna, I think. I was raised in a family that owns and operates a retail business. The business is over 70 years old, and has a solid reputation with the community. During my teenage and college years, I spent quite a bit of time working the floor handling all parts of the customer service channel.

Customer service was a big emphasis for my father as he had differentiate his business from the large national competitors that were encroaching on his space. While the customer service focus may not be always apparent to the customers, here are some key ways they beat their competitors in service:

  • Greeting every customer - How many times have you been to a large national retailer and not been able to find anyone to help you? It is rare that they even talk to you when you are looking around with that puzzled look on your face. This doesn't happen at my family's business, all customers are greeted and asked if they need help. And if the first employee can't ask the question, then the question goes up the chain to someone who can answer the question. My father has 40 years experience in the business, he legitimately has a solution for every question.
  • Product knowledge - Similar question as above, do the employees of the large national retailers have much product knowledge? Generally speaking, they don't and have no one that can answer the tough questions. At my families business, they live and breath their business and have an immense knowledge of most their products.
  • Inventory - They don't use any fancy inventory management system, it's all in their head and on the retail floor. The homegrown/manual inventory system keeps the inventory as a major component to running their business. They don't have the computerized inventory system to rely on, so they have to focus energy on making sure they have what their customers want. If they don't have it, they know all the suppliers that may have it, know who can get it to them by when, and can always find a solution. Special orders are an integral part of their business, you don't usually get that at a large national retailer.
The custom nature of my families business allows them to create a great customer service strategy which really caters to their customer having a great shopping experience. When compared to a national retailer, there really isn't a comparison when you look at the details of the customer service strategy.  Customer service strategy really is a differentiator for local, nimble, businesses and I don't think enough of the local businesses make this a focus.  Most customers would rather shop with a locally owned business and a little bit of an emphasis on customer service is an easy way to beat the large national retailer.

Happy Customer Service Week

I just read on Bruce Temkin's Customer Experience Matters blog, that this week is Customer Service Week. I really like how Bruce touches on the difference between customer service and customer experience.
My day to day job is heavily focused on the customer experience, specifically at kiosks. We have a strong focus on the UI customer experience due to that being the only option for customers to get their transactions completed. I believe that a good UI customer experience is imperative to an overall customer service strategy.
With most UI customer experiences, there is the chance of errors. How does your UI react when there are errors? Are there times when your UI cannot be the response mechanism to these errors.
We have a team that is focusing on non-UI atonement for issues that happen within our customer experience. We try to handle as many of our issues within the UI experience, but there are definitely issues that have to be dealt with and appologized for through other channels. This enhancement to our atonement process is definitely a key component in our customer service strategy.
Does your business have a proactive atonement program as part of your customer service strategy?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sociology of groups - Annual Water Ski Weekend

This past weekend was our annual Water Ski Team alumni trip.  This is an alumni ski trip for members of my college ski team and their sig o's (and children).  This was our 7th annual trip and it is always looked forward to for all.  We typically rent a private water ski lake and spend the weekend camping and catching up with each other.  It was a great weekend and I look forward to next year's trip.

As my wife and I drove home, we discussed how great a group of people it is and were both humbled by how educated and intelligent the people are.  There were approximately 15 people who were on the team (+ 15 significant others).  Out of the 15 members, I think there were only 2 of us that didn't have any advanced degree.  While we all graduated from a great college, most of the members have gone on to get another degree.  The degrees range from teaching, mba, masters in childhood autism, environmentalism, dentistry, law, nursing, and I'm sure I'm missing some.

While I was one of the few without an advanced degree, it was great to be in company with such accomplished people.  My wife and I also discussed how only the 2 non-advanced degree people work in general business related jobs.  Most of the others work for the government, non-profit, healthcare, or other professional fields.

So why is this group so educated? And why are they not working in the "Business World"?  I began thinking through the backgrounds of many of these peolpe's parents.  And it seems like the families definitely have a large impact on the destinations of these people.

I'm humbled and proud to be part of this alumni group and look forward to the enlightening conversations we will have next time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Future Think - What will today's children expect as they grow up?

This post is part of my ongoing conceptualizing of my Future Think process (see my past post Future Think - 3, 5, 10 years).  I'm beginning to construct a method for my team to create a forward looking development strategy.

As I mentioned in a recent post, this past weekend while I was listening to Dishy Mix, Adam Kleinberg mentioned how his kids have the "Tivo mindset". While listening to the radio in the car, they wanted to rewind it to hear the song again. Not on today's traditional car stereo, except if you're listening through the new iPod Nano (which allows you to rewind up to 15 minutes, see Terry White's review here).

I guess it should have been a sign for me when I was a child and we had that brand new VCR with a remote control, even though it was a hard line remote.  That was the coolest thing ever.  Did I ever think I'd be able to control my DIRECTV from my mobile phone?  I didn't even have a dream of having a phone that fits in my pocket and could be used anywhere I went. I'm sure there were people working on these innovations back when I was just a pup.

With children these days having the fortune of certain innovative products like Tivo, they're expecting our other technologies to work in similar ways.  I guess there are always certain technologies that are late to innovate and seem so archaic.  I hope our children push us to innovate for their sake, and for them to not accept that our radio doesn't have buffering.

As part of my Future Think concept, I'm going to add a section around "Thinking like a child".

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

StartupVisa - "The American Dream"

Check out the StartupVisa and this post from Brad Feld and friends. They are attempting to modify an existing Visa to be more conducive to foreign entreprenures starting businesses in the US.

The concept makes sense, and it seems like they are putting together a simple and thoughtout structure for managing the program. It's great to see some great business leaders putting together a government program that makes sense. This really is the "American Dream" at work. And what a better way to stimulate innovation and business growth in the US.

Good work StartupVisa team. Let us know how we can help.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Is your app "Easy"? Pandora is easy.

Yesterday, during my early morning run through the town of Laughlin, NV (btw, too many hills in my path lead to skipping my run today, ouch), I was listening to a Dishy Mix podcast guest hosted by Adam Kleinberg (CEO of Traction).  In the episode, Adam interviewed Tim Westergren, founder of  It was fascinating to listen to Tim talk about Pandora and how it is making huge changes to the way people listen to music.  I can't wait to see where Pandora goes in the next couple of years, as I am a huge fan.

One comment Tim made really made an impact on me.  He stated "I think people ultimately want easy. what the web does is give you easy and personalized", which isn't rocket science, but is often overlooked by product developers.  I think it is often the case that product developers think they're making things easy for users, but they often get too close to the product and over develop.

There are so many great products available today on the web and in the general public, but many of them take a lot of work to setup and take full advantage of.  I often find myself loving certain products, yet I give up on them because I don't want to put in the necessary work to fully utilize.  Terry White recently wrote about his experiences with Apple products (as he often does and I feel gives the best unbiased reviews of Apple products, and that's why I follow his blog) in his post "iTunes 9.0.1, a closer look" how Apple has many great enhancements they're launching, but they're not quite fully developed.  He touches on Home Sharing, which I've never really heard of but would love the ability to use this Apple service.  That said, I'm guessing I would have to put in many hours to get my network and computers configured correctly to take advantage of this. 

Is it easy enough for the average person? I seem to be asking that question fairly often, and the answer usually is "No".  Products are asking people to make a large commitment in order to take full advantage of the whole service.

I think Pandora is a great example of "Easy".  They've developed their app to work with very little interaction from the user, the web to mobile versions translate perfectly and utilize the same interactions.  Pandora has nailed "Easy", I just hope they keep the vision moving in a simplistic manner and don't add to many bells and whistles like so many product developers do.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is social media too crowded? Too difficult?

I just read Scobleizer's post about his Real Time announcement of his new baby (congratulations).

While it was interesting to hear all the sites he was using to broadcast the message to his family and friends, it struck me that this was way too difficult. He mentioned a handfule of methods/social sites that he posted this announcement on in order to let all his friends and family know of the joyous event. With social media being so dishjointed, will we ever be able to broadcast an announcement like this from using one method?

If the social media space is so crowded and disjointed, will it get easier or worse as we move forward?

I would think if more of the social tools utilized more of an open infrastructure, then this would allow much more interconnectedness. But I guess this really stems from some of the players keeping their walls up.

I have to admit that I've been slow to become active in social media but I've been watching for a while. I guess one reason I haven't participated up until now was that I was overwhelmed. Is social media too difficult for the average person? Will most people rely on one social media community (I.e. Facebook or Twitter) and mainly stay in that environment?

My assumption is that most people will only use one social media platform, at least until the community makes it much easier to connect between sites.

Could you imagine if you had to manually switch networks every time you wanted to call a Motorolla phone from our Apple cell phone? Then switch again to call a Nokia. Blackberry. That would be ridiculous and unacceptable.

Maybe I'm just asking for too much early in the social era.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Future Think - 3, 5, 10 years

Scobleizer posted about a possible Post iPhone World. It doesn't really seem possible, but something will eventually overtake the iPhone. I like his comment about the Walkman. I love my iPhone (even though it's a 1st generation), but I can't wait for the next thing to take over.

When I read Scobleizer's post, I thought about an ideation process I've been trying to formulate for my team. I haven't totally flushed it out, but it will hopefully help us develop some longer term projects to get us ahead of the competition. Part of the excercise will be to think about what the world, technology and our industry will be like in 3, 5, and 10 years.

Can you remember what the world was like 3, 5, or 10 years ago? 10 years ago was all about dialup. I know I wasn't thinking that I'd have faster Internet on my phone within a couple of years.

I think it's important for businesses to futurethink, especially if they want to be on the leading edge. Does your business have a future think program? If so, does it work?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New to Blogging, set "everything" up on iPhone

It really is a sign of the times. I sat here in my lazy boy, with the TV going, and setup my first blog completely using my iPhone. How cool is that? Seriously, what can't I do on my phone.

I've got to give my thanks to Google and Blogger for an easy setup and a free blog. I didn't think it could be that easy but of course I started by finding Google's blog tool, an went from there. The setup was simple an I starte my blog.

The one downfall to my Blogger setup; I couldn't write the blog post directly from the Blogger site using Safari. Quick search for he'll posting and it didn't look like there was a trick to post. So, I went to the App Store to find a way to post. That's where I found VirtueSoft's BlogWriter Lite (read: free).

So, I was able to get my first two posts up fairly easily. Good work Google, Apple and Virtue Soft.

How I Randomly Started My Blog Today

Well, here is my first blog post.

It all started when I read Chris Brogan's Blog this morning. It talked about Finding Your Inspirational Code. In this post he mentioned some blogs he follows, which I already follow most except Problogger . So I began following Problogger and read the Blogging to Learn post. This post really got me thinking that I should start a blog.

I guess I'm not really sure what I'll blog about, but I'm sure I'll figure it out.